Reboot’s offering these recommendations at this time because we know that peer support is incredibly valuable and that folks at all levels within your company need support…
Finding yourself in mandatory isolation?
In these times it’s more important than ever to stay connected, which can be a challenge when physical isolation is a requirement. Over the last four years at Reboot, we’ve learned how to create meaningful connections in virtual environments, and there’s no time like the present to share the steps we’ve found immensely beneficial when creating peer coaching groups. Peer groups are here for support in times of instability and help us to feel less alone with a group who has our backs.
Start with a check-in
Increasingly, research confirms the benefits of check-ins. Having a format for members of the group to check-in helps to accomplish a number of things. First, it gives them an opportunity to context switch from what they were doing to what they are doing now. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to share whatever is important or on their mind with the group so they can fully arrive and be present. It also goes a long way in giving other people in the group context as to what is going on for each individual. This is important in peer coaching groups and other relational contexts such as work, and even at home. We tend to jump to conclusions and quickly make meaning of someone else’s behavior without having proper context or an understanding of what’s really going on for them. Making space for check-ins helps the story-making part of our brain calm down in regards to the actions of others.
Check out this blog post inspired by one of the common ways we check-in at Reboot. RYG Check-Ins
Set the Container
Think of a glass of water. The glass is a container. It has a certain size and is made of a certain material. The qualities of the glass will determine how much water it can hold and what happens to the water if it is hot or cold. The water is the content and will be shaped and influenced by the container it’s in. When communicating the qualities of the container of a peer coaching group, instead of the size and materials, think about the behaviors and actions that are important to the group. This lets all the members know where the boundaries of behavior are, and, like water, know what content can be held by the container.
See below for a few norms and guidelines we use to set the container.
- Presence — Be here, in (virtual) body and attention. Turn off notifications while in discussions. Notice what’s happening in you (thoughts, sensations, emotions) and what’s unfolding in the group.
- Ask questions before giving advice — Turn to curiosity about yourself, the other person, and the web of complex dynamics that are present in any intimate relationship. Resist the (often well-intended ) urge to solve, fix, or save immediately. This begins with listening from the heart for the core of what is being shared.
- Turn toward the difficult — This is an opportunity to “discuss the undiscussable” in a safe environment.
- Own Your Perspective — Speak from your own perspective using “I” statements and allow others to do the same. Explain your reasoning and intent. Ask questions to better understand the perspective of others.
Bring forth a challenge or issue
These are times filled with uncertainty, confusion, and anxiety. Having a place where it’s okay to share challenges or issues with no easy answer is more important than ever. It’s helpful to have a structure that gives those who are sharing some direction in how to share, while also giving others in the group clues for how to support them. A good structure will give the one sharing the following (at a minimum):
- A time to share what the challenge or issue is, and any relevant context that would be useful for the rest of the group
- The space to reflect on the direction they would like to go, i.e. Where would they like to be at the end of their turn?
- A chance to voice the type of support that would be most helpful from others in the group. Some examples of different types of support are listening with appreciation and respect, asking open-ended questions, or sharing examples of what others are also going through that might be helpful.
Here are a few examples of helping formats you could draw from:
- Clearness Committee: Invented by the Quakers and adapted by the Center for Courage & Renewal.
- Honest and Open Questions
- Troika Consulting: From Liberating Structures
If you’re interested in learning more, check out Reboot’s in-depth approach to creating Peer Coaching Groups.